Etihad-Alitalia deal is sealed, cargo to be resurrected
Relaunching and expanding Alitalia’s cargo business to serve the Italian market, Europe’s third largest, is a key part of the Gulf carrier’s strategy, Etihad CEO James Hogan said after signing the deal.
August 11, 2014
By Donald Urquhart
Etihad Airways and Alitalia have finally sealed their partnership, making the financially troubled Italian legacy carrier the eighth airline in Etihad’s Equity Alliance. Under the agreement, Etihad will invest €560 million in Alitalia for a 49 per cent stake. Relaunching and expanding Alitalia’s cargo business to serve the Italian market, Europe’s third largest, is a key part of the Gulf carrier’s strategy, Etihad CEO James Hogan said after signing the deal on 8 August.
“Cargo is an important part of the mix,” said Hogan, at a press conference. “We will put cargo through Malpensa. There are key destinations around the world we can serve.” Alitaila’s Milan hub is set to benefit from the largest investment in cargo activity, via a “centre of excellence,” and other Italian airports will also be upgraded to develop an integrated cargo network.
Italy has been effectively without a home cargo carrier for over two years after Alitalia sharply reduced its cargo business and sold its three remaining MD-11 freighters to focus on passengers as part of a financial restructuring in 2011. Another Italian carrier, Cargoitalia moved in to plug the gap, acquiring the Alitalia freighters and announcing plans to buy five A330 freighters, but it ceased operations only a year later leaving the market wide open for rival European cargo carriers, led by Cargolux and Lufthansa Cargo.